The Parenthood is a new series with a focus on parents balancing work, kids, life and everything in between. It is a very real glimpse into the everyday lives of people, just like you and me, who are figuring out parenthood as they go. There is no manual for one of the toughest jobs in the world. The hope is that these accounts provide some interesting perspectives into the undefined and ever-changing life as a parent.
Monica Guzman Preston and I met when she was my editor for the college paper my freshman year. She was a few years older, witty, super smart, and always had a big smile on her face, even when we were in crisis mode. Now a full-time freelance journalist, she lives in Seattle with her adorable kids, Julian and Carolina, and her supportive husband, Jason.
I wake up between 5 and 6 a.m. to work before my baby [Lina] gets up. I usually get an hour or two on the couch before she stirs in her crib, I go nurse her in bed, and put her back in the crib for another hour or so of sleep. When my almost 3-year-old [Julian] gets up at 8 a.m., I put down work and get to parenting, and fit in a shower where I can!
2. What is your typical breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?
Breakfast is Cheerios or Oatmeal Squares with strawberries and/or bananas. Lunch is leftovers or, if I’m lucky, the Greek Salad at Vios Cafe in Seattle, my favorite. Dinner is whatever my husband and I cook up. These days, probably something grilled out back.
3. What is your everyday style?
Ha! Not much. These days I wear the same pair of cutoff jeans over and over again because I have no idea where my other summery pants and skirts have ended up, and haven’t made the time to look. I’m in a bun phase for my hair, and am thinking about cutting it short, partly ’cause it would look great (I think), partly ’cause I’m bored, and partly so my baby doesn’t tug at it.
4. Do you have a makeup ritual? (What products do you like to use every day? What is your go-to for a special occasion?)
Again – ha! I’ve never been much of a makeup girl. While friends in high school and college had whole kits I had, like, three things in tubes or something. Right now it’s all from Sephora, and it’s been the same for a while. A tinted moisturizer foundation, some blush, some concealer. Occasionally the mascara. I couldn’t tell you the exact brands because I’ve never really cared beyond asking the Sephora people what they recommend and spot-checking the price so it’s not insane. I have eye-shadow, somewhere, but it’s been months since I’ve used it.
5. Tell me more about the work that you do. (Did you always know this is what you wanted to do? Do you go into an office or do you work from home? Do you love what you do? What does the future hold?)
I’m a journalist. The details are complicated. I’ve been freelance for several years, writing for The Seattle Times, GeekWire, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, and Quill Magazine. Usually I write columns on technology, media, or culture. My interest and work in journalism goes beyond writing, though. I like thinking about how journalism can be done differently and how it can involve the public more, and get new courage. Right now I’m working on a research study into that, and I’m loving it. So yes: I LOVE what I do. I’ve stopped asking myself if I’d want to work in anything else. Next year I’ll be a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, which will be amazing.
Write. Don’t wait for anything. Just do it.
7. When did you move to Seattle? Why?
On December 31, 2006. I moved here to finish off a fellowship with Hearst Newspapers right after college. I came to work at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which became the largest daily metro newspaper to shut down its print edition back in 2009. (Those were a really awful few months.) I don’t want to live anywhere else. I love this place.
8. How do you and Jason balance work and life? Any special tips?
Don’t expect to do it perfectly or you’ll go nuts. I’m convinced we all have cycles. We look for consistent formulas of ideal time spent doing this or that but the truth is that there is no consistency, not even in our own preferences, so “balance” is always a moving target, if it’s a target at all. You need lots of forgiveness and flexibility, and you need to cut yourself and your spouse/partner some slack. Especially if you have kids – that one amazing collaborative project you can’t screw up, and both of you are so invested in.
9. How often do you and Jason have a chance to go on a date night? Describe one of your favorite dates.
Every Friday! We’re so lucky: my parents (below) live nearby and give us every Friday out while they watch the kids. We usually go to dinner and a movie, or just one big long dinner. It’s good to leave lots of room to chat. The best date night is one where I feel we’ve had time to dig deep enough into each other’s state of mind that we feel caught up, refreshed, and right there with each other.
10. What has becoming a parent of two taught you?
Ha! Everything. I mean, everything. I have a hard time recognizing who I was before I became a parent. It’s changed my brain entirely. I have new thoughts on responsibility, time, my place in the world, society, hope, meaning, the whole thing. These are new depths and new challenges. The highs are higher, the lows are lower and the fears are much scarier. Parenting turned the volume up on life, and I feel like I can hear things that escaped me before. It’s awesome.
Thanks Monica, I especially appreciate your take on finding an ideal “balance” and how it is always a moving target!